Fourteen years ago, I was an average mom with a fourteen month old child and another baby on the way. I loved being with my child and couldn’t wait for baby number two. But I began to notice that my child was more active than other little children. She slept much less than my friend’s children and never slowed down during the day. I actually thought it was normal until one Sunday when I watched my child from the door of the nursery at church. I suspected then that I was in trouble. She literally went from one toy to the next. She wasn’t frenzied or out of control. She simply figured one toy out and then put it away, then went to the next toy and to the next until she had figured out all the toys that interested her. She then drew some and then went back to her favorite toys and class was over. When baby number two came I was hoping for a mellow child but no such luck.
At church we kept people entertained for many pews around us. I would get comments like, “It is so fun watching your children that I barely heard any of the meeting.” Or “Are they this much fun at home?” I would answer, “You have no idea. I have way too much fun!” And that was the truth. My children were so active and so creative that life was always entertaining. From the little escapades like when my oldest wanted to get into my purse to find the make-up, she was maybe 11 months old, and while my husband and I were sitting not five feet away, she tries to sneakily drag my purse into the next room. I looked at my husband and said, “She actually thinks we don’t see her!” To the clever things they would say to the fun activities we were always doing, life was full and rewarding.
When my oldest was about 2 ½ a good friend of mine called and asked for some help. He said he was taking a child psychology class and needed a child between the ages of 18 months to 3 years old, or something like that. I would need to keep track of her eating for a week or two and then he would perform a developmental test on her to see how she compared to other children her age. I thought that sounded like fun and agreed. After tracking her eating for a couple weeks, my friend came over and began the test. The test took forever and he kept apologizing for the length, ‘this isn’t how it went in class,’ he kept saying. He explained to me that he was starting each section of the test at about a 6 month younger level than my daughter's age but because she kept exceeding her age level it was taking much longer. By the end of the test, though she was only 2 ½ he announced that she was basically testing at a high 4 year old or a low 5 year old level!
I had had many friends like this in high school, the highly intelligent and very creative types. Many of them struggled in school because they were so bored and uninterested. Many of them turned to partying or being the class clown and the results of this developmental test freaked me out. I called a dear friend of mine who had helped her highly creative and intelligent boys get through school and asked for advice. She was so good to talk to. She made a comment that more than any other soothed my fears. She said, “Christy, you have been doing just fine with these precious children to this point, you will know what to do for them as they grow.” I realized she was right. I had so much fun with my children. They learned so quickly and were so ‘alive’. We played from sun up to sun down and they were so happy. I would put my youngest in a backpack and my oldest in a stroller and walk all around our little college town. We would go swimming at the college, play in our wading pool, take walks through the botanical gardens, draw, paint, go to parks and enjoy the changing seasons. But I still wondered what to do as far as schooling went. Fortunately I had a few years.
One of my most influential professors at BYU often talked about how he had homeschooled all nine of his adopted children! That was in 1992. During and after that class, I often thought of him and how in the world he and his wife did it but would dismiss that as a crazy idea for me. When my friend shared with me the results of the developmental test, I remembered again this idea of homeschool but again dismissed it as crazy. But over the next 3 years I began looking into other alternatives to public school and due to the expense always returned to homeschool. I found that the homeschool movement was gaining momentum and even approval across
and more and more of my age friends were considering it. I did a lot of research and found that there were some really appealing aspects of homeschooling like the opportunity of being with my children all day everyday, eating wholesome foods, more time for them to be children and play, and the freedom to choose what I taught my children and the freedom for my children to spend time learning what they really wanted to learn. America
I studied many theories on how to educate my children from Charlotte Mason to Thomas Jefferson to Montessori and others. I liked so many of the ideas, they were so freeing from what I had experienced in public schools. But I also was interviewing mothers that were in the public school arena and why they liked it and why they disliked it. I asked every question I could think of and then I did the same with the few homeschool mothers that I knew. I observed the children of each of these mothers . It wasn’t until one of the mom’s, who was teaching my child at her preschool, mentioned that my daughter would likely be one of the “trouble-makers” at school that I realized I needed to homeschool. It is humorous to me now why this good woman said what she said. She was trying to teach my child her abc’s (which my child had learned a year or more before) and my child wanted to play in their huge playhouse with the Barbies instead. My daughter spent hours as a 5 year old creating Barbie clothes and stories relating to the Barbies and she was bored with what this lady was teaching because my daughter already knew it!
I realized that day that my decision was made up. I would begin to create an environment where my creative children could create, where they could pursue their talents and follow their specific missions in this life. It is interesting to note that by age 15 this same daughter has written a handful of her own music on the piano, some with words some without, she has written the first nearly 40 pages of an amazing fantasy novel and draws and paints beautifully, dances and sings breathtakingly and has studied things in-depth and as varied as frogs to Egyptology to WWII! Not to mention, she is a spiritually strong and independent woman who is beautiful, articulate and strong. I have thought often of what could have happened if I sent her in with the like-minded people in the public school system who would have forced my very intelligent and talented daughter to do what everyone else had to do and made her feel stupid because she struggled to read for the first few years of her life and because math doesn’t come easily for her. And instead I have been able to spend day after day with this amazing young woman, work on a special relationship with her and rejoice in her development. I wouldn’t trade a day of it for time to relax once the children leave the house.
That was the straw, when the preschool teacher told me my child would be one of the “trouble-makers”. I am sure that I haven’t been perfect but I know that my children know who they are and are becoming what they came to this earth to become and I am satisfied. Over the years I have watched each of my children grow through challenges and blessings in their lives similar to my oldest. I have laughed and cried with them and through it all we have grown stronger together. I revel in the time I have with my beautiful creative children, each of them with their unique gifts that they are developing, some more scholarly and some more creative but all equally amazing. Simply being with my children has been one the greatest joys of my life.